So much of the work of marketers is founded on gaining a clear understanding of your audience. Once you have that understanding you can tailor your messaging, creative and distribution channels to that specific niche. But what do you do when there is no niche? How do you create a brand, a visual identity and a marketing campaign that can engage and inspire an audience that ranges from a four-year-old child to one of the UK’s leading food scientists?

This was precisely the challenge Wellcome Trust faced with ‘The Crunch’, a major new public engagement initiative about food and drink. Lynn Huynh, Marketing Communications Project Manager at Wellcome Trust, explains: “The Crunch will encompass the entire UK, will last for all of 2016, and involves us communicating complicated topics to a very wide range of audiences, many of whom, for very valid reasons, do not have environment, nutrition and health as a high priority.”

This is not the only brand that aims to have such far-reaching appeal. Far from it: marketeers are often presented with this type of challenge. The experiences of Wellcome Trust is a good example for anyone seeking to emulate their success.

Inspiring a nation

The future of food is one of the biggest challenges on our plate. Our relationship with food is changing, affecting our health and the world around us in new and uncertain ways. The Crunch aims to encourage the nation to explore these changes and connections, to inspire us all to create a recipe for a happier, healthier future.

Huynh says: “It was critical that we created a name, brand, visual identity and messaging that would unite all involved and become even more than the sum of its parts. So the name, look and feel we created together with our design consultancy, Blast, and digital partner agency Itineris, needed to be contemporary, relevant, and fun, allowing us to convey a serious message and inspire people to care about the issues.”

Beyond comprehension

It is easy with these projects to end up settling on the lowest common denominator, and so creating a brand which is understood by all, but which is too simplistic or childish to inspire the more educated elements of the audience. The Crunch needs to be more than merely comprehensible; it also needs to engage and inspire, and what excites a four-year-old is very different to what excites a food scientist.

The first step is to identify the essence of the initiative that needs to be communicated to all audiences. For The Crunch this is the connections between our food, our health and our planet – elevating our thinking about our food and drink choices beyond our next meal and focussing on their wider implications. It is then about creating the key elements of the campaign which would be used to engage them – the name, messaging, tone of voice and the visual identity.

For example ‘The Crunch’, as a name, is fun and foody enough to appeal to children, but also has a second meaning around reaching the time for action on a serious topic, which also engages the adult audience.

Crafting a flexible brand system

Once you have gained this clarity on the core idea behind the brand, the next step is to create a brand identity system and assets that communicate this idea and can be deployed in different ways to engage different audiences. All elements of the brand convey the concept of connections in some way. The Crunch logo, for example, is formed of three overlapping circles – representing food, health and environment - with a bite taken from it. It is a simple enough idea for children to understand, but it also offers the flexibility needed in order to deliver the concept, and its messages, in a more sophisticated way for the adult audience.

The resulting visual identity comprises of hundreds of icons which can be used in combination to communicate everything from simple ideas to complex concepts. This flexibility not only helps to communicate the multitude of themes and topics covered by The Crunch, but importantly provides a flexible kit of parts – including illustrations and infographics - for all 15 delivery partners to use to communicate directly with their audiences.

Positive response

Creating such a flexible, yet cohesive brand takes time, hard work and no small amount of skill. Yet it can be done as Huynh concludes: “Our stakeholders are responding very positively to the brand. Even at this early stage people are beginning to feel inspired by what we can achieve with The Crunch. We can’t wait for the next stage and we’re looking forward to bringing even more people into this exciting and important conversation.”

As well as helping reshape the way we think about food, The Crunch may even help inform our thinking on these brands with broad audiences. As The Crunch demonstrates, it is possible to go beyond the lowest common denominator and create a brand which both a four-year-old and a food scientist can experience and which makes them feel informed, inspired and ready to act.

By Colin Gifford, Design Director, Blast